Turkey management issues by Thompsons poultry specialist, K. McConkey.
During the first six weeks of the poults life, the development of the skeleton, immune system and cardio system takes place, therefore getting poults of to a good start produces the best final results. The aim of the grower should be to provide an environment which, through thorough cleaning and preparation of the house, correct preheating, proper lighting and provision of adequate feeders and drinkers, will encourage efficient consumption of feed and allow the poults to express their growth potential.
It is important to light brooders at least 24 hours before the poult’s arrival in order to warm the litter (not just the air temperature) and prevent poult chilling. If the poult becomes chilled because the floor is cold, their movement level decreases and they will not actively seek out feed or water. Temperature should be checked at poult level and the aim is for a temperature of 37ºC under the heat source and 30ºC in the surrounding area. It should be remembered that temperatures can only be used as a guide because the best way to adjust the temperature for the comfort of the poults is to observe their behaviour. When comfortable, the poults will be dispersed throughout the brooding pen. The house temperature should gradually be reduced daily (3ºC per week) until it reaches 21ºC
It is critical that turkey poults feed and drink as soon as possible after they arrive on farm and to help achieve this, plenty of feeders and drinkers must be available. It is always a good idea to observe that all poults know where to find the feed and water sources. Ensure even lighting throughout the pen to help poults find feeders and drinkers easily. Litter management through the whole growing period is very important to optimise the birds potential and to keep the birds as clean as possible, making plucking less difficult. Regular bedding with clean, dry, dust-free material is recommended. Ensure there is a good environment in the house as this will help keep birds healthier and help keep litter dry. Monitor temperature and prevent birds getting too cold at night. Weighing turkeys on a regular basis will allow you to determine your current flock status with corrective action being taken if birds are not at target.
With an increasing number of specialised breeds been grown, it is difficult to give recommendations to suit all circumstances and owners must adapt management plans to take these factors into account.
Thompsons’ general feeding programme recommendations are as follows:-
• From day old to four weeks feed Hi-Grain Turkey Starter Crumbs.
• From four weeks to six weeks feed Hi-Grain Turkey Starter Pellets.
• From six weeks to 10 weeks feed Hi-Grain Turkey Grower Pellets.
• From 10 weeks to 13 weeks feed Hi-Grain Turkey Rearer Pellets.
• From 14 weeks to kill Hi-Grain Early Turkey Finisher Pellets can be fed.
• From 14 weeks to kill Hi-Grain Heavy Turkey Finisher Pellets can be fed.
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